MIAMI — The gloves are off in the lawsuit brought against the estate of deceased Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez by the families the two men who died with him in a boat crash nearly a year ago.
The lawyers for Emilio Macias and Eduardo Rivero, whom Fernandez took for the tragic late night ride after hours of partying, now want to change their complaint with a request for punitive damages.
Their incendiary motion, which calls the 24-year-old Cuban defector Fernandez “grossly negligent,” was filed last week — after the two sides of the lawsuit received an unredacted version of the accident report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The motion doesn’t delve into the new information that Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Lisa Walsh ordered released to lawyers in the case but not the public.
And the lawyers for the Macias and Rivero families didn’t return calls for comment.
But the motion makes it clear they believe a jury could be convinced to award them millions in punishment for Fernandez’ behavior when the 32-foot SeaVee’s crashed into a Government Cut jetty off Miami Beach Sept. 25.
Among other accusations, the motion reads Fernandez showed a “callous disregard and gross negligence.”
“(Fernandez) knowingly chose to operate the subject vessel in the dead of night heavily impaired with no possibility of back-up or co-pilot assistance,” the motion by Fort Lauderdale attorney Chris Royer reads.
Royer also spells out some of the FWC’s finding, including Fernandez’ .147 blood alcohol level (nearly twice the legal DWI limit) and the presence of cocaine in his system, the 65.7 mph speed of the boat before impact, and the fact Fernandez navigated with the inside lights of the boat on, making it harder for him to see.
“There is not excuse or explanation (Fernandez) could proffer that can justify this stunning breach of safety and common sense that caused the wrongful deaths …,” the motion concludes.
Fernandez family friend and attorney Ralph Fernandez in Tampa declined comment on the unredacted accident report he also saw.
He did say he read of motion to add punitive damages but said it “flies in the face” of existing case law.